Onward’s Cruise Journal 2016

Updated: 2 February 2017

March 2016

1 Mar 16; Tuesday; George Town

  • I again spent most of the day doing battle with the Yamaha outboard.

2 Mar 16; Wednesday; George Town
  • I went out to do battle with the recalcitrant Yamaha outboard yet again. In the process, I pulled the starter too hard while moving my arm in the wrong way and rendered it almost unusable. I managed to find and fix two other problems: another corroded connector to the CDI unit; I found a small shard of silicone rubber gasket that got sucked up the fuel tank intake tube. Neither of these fixes solved the problem of the loss of about half the power. I found the bottom spark plug wet and dirty so I changed it and this had no real effect. I also determined the bottom cylinder does fire at low rpm but pulling the plug wire doesn't seem to affect speed at high rpm!
  • We went in to try to play in the bocce tournament but got there < 5 min too late because the dinghy stalled out on the way in to the beach. So we drowned our sorrows with beers at Chat & Chill and soothed our souls with burgers. We enjoyed chatting over lunch with a couple visiting from Canada.
  • I was exhausted by the time we got back to the boat and consequently crashed. Peggy tried her had at making a stir-fry dinner for the first time. The pork and veggies result was spectacular! My shoulder gave me problems with pain all night that meds did not touch. Not fun.

3 Mar 16; Thursday; George Town
  • outboard; wind minstrel
  • Chan n Chill no bocce
  • I had told Brian that I was so frustrated, I would buy a new motor instantly if Minns Watersports were to show up with one. When I got back aboard with my right arm aching and useless, I was really in the pits. Then I decided that enough was enough. I called Minns and found out they had a new Yamaha 15hp 2-stroke available. I told them I would buy it and arranged to come in tomorrow morning to get it. I now felt better both physically and psychologically.
  • I decided to relax with an old friend and started reading HMS Surprise by Patrick O'Brian.
  • Peggy decided we needed a comfort meal and made pasta. I decided we would both enjoy watching Downton Abby so I found a synopsis of all the seasons by episode so we could remember where we left off. We enjoyed a pleasant evening with wine, pasta, and friends on Downton to put us back in a more peaceful spirit.

4 Mar 16; Friday; George Town
  • It was hard for me to wail for 0930 to roll around so we could go fetch the new motor. With my R arm in its sling, we slowly crept across the harbor only burning half the fuel that went through the carburetor. We made it to Minns dock where they had the new motor ready to load. I went in and made one of those expenditures that one actually makes with joy. By the time I completed the purchase, the new engine was in place on Venture and the old one nestled in the bow.
  • We celebrated with another great lunch at the Driftwood Cafe before we made the obligatory stop at Exuma Market before returning to Onward.
  • We used a spare halyard and the electric winch to move the old outboard from Venture to the starboard forward side deck at the shrouds. That done, we both took a much needed nap.
  • In late afternoon we decided to put some hours on the ew motor and took it on a tour of the anchorage to the N end of Stocking Island. On the way back, we encountered Walkabout and were invited aboard for drinks by Joann and Tom. A very pleasant interlude that helped but behind the frustrations of the last week.
  • Peggy made a celebratory dinner of her wonderful lemon chicken for dinner. We relaxed with lemon chicken, wine, and Downton. Life was good.

5 Mar 16; Saturday; George Town
  • Right after the end of the Cruisers Net, I heard someone call and went out to find Jerry and . Jerry had heard my pleas for assistance on the net earlier in the net and came over to see if he could help. Outboard assessment
  • windlass restow
  • Peggy extended her culinary exploration further by making her first chicken curry, Downton

6 Mar 16; Sunday; George Town
  • Peggy and I Ventured ashore for Beach Church. We took along a package of cookies to make up for our failure to bake. As usual, it was a beautiful and uplifting event between the setting with Elizabeth Harbour in the background and the group of very nice people. We had time to talk with a lot of folks over coffee after the service. The cookies were popular.
  • At 1200 we walked over and bought tickets for the Chat & Chill Pig Roast and wandered around for a bit until they were ready to serve. We were clever enough to near the start of the line this time. The departure of a lot of boaters after Regatta was evident.
  • We enjoy

7 Mar 16; Monday; George Town
  • wind

8 Mar 16; Tuesday; George Town
  • wind

9 Mar 16; Wednesday; George Town
  • In spite of 20 kt+ E winds, we Ventured into town so Peggy could pick up the package of mail she had shipped in via Reggie Air Express. The process worked well and we picked it up at Doi Boi Unlimited their agent in town. We went to Exuma Market to do some food shopping and for Peggy to arrange for a gift certificate for us to give to the George Town Family who lost their home and all of their possessions in a fire.
  • The ride back was a bit bouncy and slow as we dodged wind generated waves. I worked on the enclosure door adapter.

10 Mar 16; Thursday; George Town
  • Another windy day, so we stayed aboard and enjoyed the quiet and the opportunity to work on this-and-thats. I finally completed the adaptor that enables us to more easily zip the forward zippers of the enclosure doors.

11 Mar 16; Friday; George Town
  • SWR; pompous; propane tank
  • We invited the Exuberants, Pru and Burt, and the Carrie Mays, Maria & Bob, and for a Pizza night. I whipped up two batches of rosemary & olive oil bread dough is the morning.

12 Mar 16; Saturday; George Town
  • We headed into town to have coffee with Jillian who had run the Regatta opening show they day we arrived. She is a very knowledgeable woman with many contacts on Exuma and we talked about how she could assist the Bahamas Cruisers Guide.
  • After our meeting we did some shopping before heading back to Onward.
  • Today is Peggy's birthday so I wanted to take her to dinner. She had heard that the new resort that has just been built had a gourmet restaurant. I did a lot of research and could not find contact information for it. I did learn that the Hotel Higgins Landing eco resort was now for sale and not in operation. I also learned that the developer of February Point had just signed an agreement with the Government to build a $200M resort on Stocking Island! Also an Italian business woman has signed a similar agreement to build a big resort on Childrens Cay with a support facility at Baraterre.
  • Peggy wanted to explore so we Ventured into Turtle Cove. It was almost dead low tide and we found one of the guys who has a house there anchored in his boat at the entrance awaiting enough tide to get in. We saw no sign of life at Higgins Landing. We found a brand new dock had been built just S of Higgins pier. We landed on the new pier and walked up to the building that is the restaurant and bar for the new resort, Lumina Point. Built by a developer from North Carolina, it is getting ready to open in the next few weeks. A week ago, the owners son had his wedding there and we got to enjoy the music. Peggy and I walked around the very nicely built and finished cottages. There are 12 to 16 of them all individual buildings. But there was no sign of life here either.
  • We headed over to St. Francis resort where we had a nice dinner and a birthday cake.

13 Mar 16; Sunday; George Town
  • Thank God for smartphones and their ability to automatically adjust to DST. As a result I was up at 0600 and decided to make some scones to take to Beach Church. I find there is a sort of Zen of scone baking and thus it is calming and peaceful. The batch came out well and I was happy to be taking most ashore so that there wouldn't be so many here to tempt us.
  • In spite of the harbor starting to empty out early this morning, there was a surprising number of people at beach church. As usual it was an uplifting time where we got to say our farewells to many cruisers who were about to move on.
  • I suddenly realized that there was less than a month until income tax returns needed to be filed. This year it was complicated by my need to file amended returns for 2014 due to an error I made when the internet went down and I couldn't get the tax regs I should have had before filing.
  • I baked some baguettes. Peggy made steak subs with onions and peppers with the balance of the skirt steak I had grilled. Delicious! We had a relaxing evening and watched the beginning of Downton Abby Season 4.

14 Mar 16; Monday;
  • I spent most of the morning working on taxes. We received a text that MY Ariel was underway from Black Point and would arrive in the afternoon.
  • Around 1400, I spotted Ariel on AIS. As they approached and we saw her moving on open water for the first time, it was very evident how big a vessel it is.
  • We headed over to Ariel for cocktails and to catch up with Mles and Laureen. I enjoyed watching Miles being meticulous in washing off our salt-water footprints

15 Mar 16; Tuesday; George Town to Conception Island
  • We headed into town at 0915 to Minns Watersports so they could do the 10-hr outboard check and service. The mechanic, Al, drained and changed the oil in the lower unit, checked compression, cleaned spark plugs. He also removed all of the head bolts one at a time, greased them, and then re-inserted them — just to be sure they would not seize up before the next service. He also advised running it at 50:1 vice the 100:1 Yamaha recommends or the 75:1 that Jerry recommended.
  • While we were waiting for the outboard service to be done. We did some shopping for fresh vegetables at Exuma Market and met the Ariels who were doing the same.
  • I also got to talk with Diane Minns who runs the Watersports and Sandpiper gift shop. She told me that the southern half of Stocking Island and Elizabeth Harbour has now been designated a Land and Sea Park. Neat.
  • With our newly tuned up outboard, we headed over to the government dock to see if the propane tank was ready. Unfortunately Rodney was still at the gas supplier so we asked that he keep it until we returned from Conception.
  • At 1145, we weighed anchor and headed S with Ariel following. The water was like glass as we transited the cut and set course directly to Conception Island. As soon as I could see Cape Santa Maria, i realized that we had internet. I decided this was a good time to try to set up moorings and dockage for the Corinthian Maine cruise. I'm not usually this early in making plans but with the prospect of having Kian and Elena aboard for the cruise, I want to make sure all is well organized this time.
  • We arrived at Conception at ~1600 and found a 144' MY there and about 7 other vessels. We were able to nestle up in the corner. Peggy decided to do another stir fry with chicken and fresh vegetables over spaghetti squash. The Ariels joined us for cocktails and dinner and we had a fine time just talking.

16 Mar 16; Wednesday; Conception Island
  • During the night the wind went away and at high tide the gentle ocean swell was able to wrap around the NW point and make it a tad rolly. A perfect Bahama Day greeted us with sunrise. I did my duty and worked on taxes for about 4 hours before becoming too bleary-brained to continue. I made some chicken salad for our picnic lunch to the creek and that helped revive my mental faculties enough to work on this journal.
  • I noticed this morning that we were anchored next to Persephone with & Jerry aboard. On their way for a snorkeling trip they stopped by to say hello.
  • Just afternoon, the Ariels came over in their nice Walker Bay tender and we headed off to the creek and salina to check out the turtles. The new tender has a bimini and that was a wonderful thing to have on this cloudless day. The 50 hp 4-stroke made the trip from the anchorage to the creek in a flash. We were a couple of hours before high tide and we had no problem getting in. The water was quite cloudy most of the way to the turtle pool. We anchored and ate lunch under the bimini while we watched many turtles pop up

17 Mar 16; Thursday; Conception Island to Cat Island
  • Last night we decided to head to Fernandez Bay on Cat Island today. As we hadn't yet walked the beach, I wanted to get in a visit before departure. I got a VHF call from Paolo on C470-Samaro who wanted to come over for a visit. When he arrived he said that he and Sylvia were about to depart for Rum Cay. He brought me two replacement sheeves for the mainsail outhaul. I had helped him a couple of years ago when one of his had broken near Black Point. As soon as he got back to the US he bought replacements including a couple for Onward — a good friend! When he returned to Samvaro we spoke on VHF so I could give him some waypoints for the beautiful crescent bay at the NW corner.
  • Peggy and I Ventured in to the beach and on the way stopped to drop off boat cards to Bill and Johanna on Visions of Johanna. We talked for a bit abut places they could wait out the front due in Sunday.
  • As we traversed along the W shore of Conception to and from the turtle creek, I noticed that vegetation seemed to be sparse along the shore and I began to wonder if that had been from Hurricane Joachim. This then made me wonder how the beach on the N shore had fared so Peggy and I headed in. It was apparent that the sand had been eroded back from the rocks where the short trail to the N beach started. When we got to the N beach, we found it pretty much the same — but there was some evidence that it had been eroded farther back from the water than before.
  • We decided to walk E to the next point. As we had the whole island to ourselves and it was such a beautiful clear sunny morning on a pristine crescent beach, I just had to take advantage of the opportunity to go for a skin suit swim. The crystal water was just the perfect temperature - refreshing but not cold. I sunned and air-dried as we walked to the point where the N highlands occur. There we found the small tidal pool that formed behind a break in the beach rocks had broadened to be >> 100' across. Other than that, Joachim did not have much apparent effect here. Good. We headed back to Onward and immediately weighed anchor to head out to Cat I.
  • As we boarded Venture to head back to the boats, Miles and I were spinning it about so I could lower the engine. He gave an exuberant tug that I wasn't quite prepared for and the tube caught me and knocked me over the lip of the sand into water that was >18" deeper. I was drenched as was my wallet and iPhone. Thankfully the phone was in its Lifeproof case. So tomorrow will tell if it still working.

18 Mar 16; Friday; Cat I to George Town
  • I woke at 0515 and was up by 0540 and decided to get underway after the coffee was ready The iPhone alarm clock sounded at 0600 as normal which was good news. We weighed anchor at 0630 in the pre-dawn gloom and headed W to Conch Cut to Elizabeth Harbour. For a while it looked like it would be a nice motorsail with the wind 45º off the port bow but as we approached Hawks Nest Point, it clocked just enough to get any benefit.
  • We motored on and the wind continued to clock until it was on the nose, of course. About 7 nm from the cut, we picked up a VHF transmission from a 50' catamaran, Silent Faith, indicating they had received quit a bit of damage from waves coming on deck as they exited Emerald Bay Marina. A window had broken and the interior was partially flooded but they were seaworthy. They were heading for George Town. Subsequently we noticed some very long period swells of > 6' coming in from the SE. We could see occasional sets of these hitting the reefs and cays on each side of the cut with spectacular effect.
  • We entered Conch Cut at about 1400 and had a quiet passage. I guess we lucked out and came in during one of the quiet intervals. Once we were in the harbor and headed S, we began taking the remnants of the large swells on the beam and it was quite rolly for a bit. We anchored off of Kidd Cove and immediately launched Venture to go recover our propane cylinder. I had been calling the Harbor Service Boat since we entered the harbor but could not reach Rodney. We finally tracked him down at the Government Dock. It seems he had been trying to find Onward in the harbor for several days as none the guys he works with had passed on my message that we were leaving for a few days.
  • As we returned to Onward, we stopped by Silent Faith. They told us they had been hit by 4 swells of about 8' which broke over the deck as they exited the marina channel. Another catamaran ahead of them had had no problem. One of the swells broke a window in the salon and another had flooded the much of the interior and caused damage to the headliner. We gave them what information we could and wished them good luck.
  • We stopped by Persistence and Tom and Chris invited us aboard for drinks. They told us of their 12-day visit to Cuba. This was a return visit and they put Persistence into the E most marina on the N shore where it stayed while they rented a car and visited several places in eastern cuba before heading back to the Bahamas.
  • While we were there we saw Becca and Mike return to Dark and Stormy. Tom invited them over and we got to catch up with them over drinks. They had crossed over to the Bahamas in early December and spent the holidays in the Abacos. They had just stopped to get some groceries before heading off to the Turks and Cacos to meed up with friends. So we had an good visit before the threat of a squall broke it up.
  • Peggy and I made a quick run to Exuma Market to get fresh vegetables. As we got back aboard, Miles called on his satphone from Cambridge Cay. It seems a fuse blew on his solar controller and he wanted to know if I had one or if I could get one. It was too late to run into town now. He gave me info on the fuse but when I looked it up its specs didn't agree with his description. When Tom and Chris came over for dinner I checked to see if he might have a spare but struck out.

19 Mar 16; Saturday; George Town to Black Point
  • At 0545 the winds were < 10 kts from the SSE. I checked the weather, listened to Chris, and decided to depart before the winds picked up. Given the large swells we encounter yesterday and that we would have an ebbing current against the wind and swells, I didn't want to add higher winds to the equation. We weighed anchor at 0700 and when we got to the cut we made a placid exit although there was still some remnant of the large swells from yesterday.

20 Mar 16; Sunday;
  • fuel water
  • Cambridge; low spot at low T
  • Anchoring
  • Stew aboard Ariel

21 Mar 16; Monday;
  • Cambridge
  • Dinner aboard w A & SG
  • farkle

22 Mar 16; Tuesday;
  • genset again! BAAAH

23 Mar 16; Wednesday; Cambridge Cay to Big Majors Spot
  • genset
  • Triumph

24 Mar 16; Thursday; Big Majors Spot
  • After breakfast I tried to raise the Ariels on VHF to no avail. I popped my head out and saw a good bit of activity on Ariel so I got out the electric signal horn and again to no avail. An hour or two later the radio silence was broken. It seems Miles was running the dishwasher and when he stepped below the feed water hose came loose. Luckily he heard the water pump running and went up to check. The result a very wet galley that took them most of the day to clean up. Been there, not a fun thing.
  • I went back to working on income tax returns for most of the day.
  • In the evening we invited the Ariels and Silver Girls over for cocktails. Peggy whipped up a batch of her famous rum punch. We originally intended to have cocktails on the beach but since it was just the 6 of us and given the Ariel's hard day, we moved the venue to Onward. All of us kicked back and relaxed over rum punch, wine, cocktails, and a wide variety of appetizers. Peggy topped it all by spending the afternoon whipping up a batch of Bahamian mac & cheese — Delish! She really made me a convert.

25 Mar 16; Friday; Big Majors Spot
  • I woke up with a great deal of energy and started in on two major tasks: organizing all my boat projects and working on income tax.
  • At noon we Ventured in to Staniel Key Yacht Club and were joined by the Ariels for lunch. We then took advantage of the arrival of the mailboat earlier to hit the stores as Isles and the Pink store were both open.
  • Peggy and I had a quiet night aboard reading.

26 Mar 16; Saturday; Big Majors Spot to Black Point
  • I spent the morning working on income taxes again. At noon we ventured into town to have lunch at the beach cookout fundraiser for the school. Mac & cheese and wings.
  • As soon as we got back to Onward we stowed Venture and weighed anchor to head to Black Point for Easter Sunday. Once underway, Peggy took the con while I went back to income taxes. There is something "interesting" about getting a download of updated TurboTax while you are "at sea".
  • Once anchored, we decided to just have a quiet night aboard. I went back to income taxes for a few hours while peggy read. We got to listen to the festivities ashore as they had an Easter festival at their Regatta Park in celebration of all the family from off-silane who came in for the holiday weekend. The mailboat Lady Francis was at the pier having brought a number of family members in from Nassau.
  • Peggy whipped up a delicious dinner out of the leftover pork chops. We ate, relaxed and enjoyed watching "In the Heart of the Sea".

27 Mar 16; Sunday; Black Point
  • At 1000 we Ventured in and took a walk around town before ending up at Gethsemane Baptist Church for the 1100 Easter service. I enjoyed seeing the women all dressed in their finery. I am struck by the fact that the congregation is mostly women. Most of the men present were from causing boats. The leader of the service is a very energetic woman. I forgot that one of the prime features of the service is very, very, loud sound. I really should have taken ear plugs. My ears still ring thinking of it.
  • At the end of the service they sang a Bahamian (and loud) rendition of Happy Birthday for one of the congregants. I made a short video of this as Elena's 6th birthday is today. Can it be?? We all got to join in both the singing and the birthday cake eating. Nice.
  • Peggy and I walked over to Rockside's waterfront gazebo where I called Elena so we could sing Happy Birthday to her. She has recently become enamored with sea glass. So, when we were in George Town I bought a beautiful hand made sea glass necklace for her. I sent a picture of it to Elena today — and got an approval. While reading the news earlier, I cam across a kickstart project to produce interactive science books for children Elena's age. Since the first 3 books in the series were to be on chemistry, I had to become a supporter and give the books to Elena as a present.
  • We had lunch at Lorraine's Cafe before heading back to Onward. I went back to working in income taxes. We had a visit from Sabertooth and chatted for a while about our plans for the last weeks of Bahamas cruising.
  • Well it was back to Downton Abbey tonight with dinner. I discovered after that Peggy is not a Seinfeld fan — ah well, I will enjoy by myself — that's what Bluetooth headphones are for.

28 Mar 16; Monday; Black Point to Current Island
  • We departed Dothan Cut with first light. The conditions were excellent for the crossing. As we approached Powell Point on Eleuthera, I checked the route and found we could continue directly on to the SW anchorage at Current Island arriving after sunset. Since this area was so familiar and the route open, easy, with few if any other boats, we decided to press on.
  • It was a long but easy day and evening. We arrived just after full darkness and anchored in our usual spot using radar. Needless to say we slept soundly.

29 Mar 16; Tuesday; Current Island to Spanish Wells
  • I checked the weather before weighing anchor and heading along the inshore route and through the cut. Thence it was an easy route across to the anchorage just SW of the cut into the interior channel. We anchored and goto ready to go exploring.
  • Before launching Venture, I decided to sluice out the floor while it hung in the falls. So I removed the plug and dropped the stern and then used about 10 half-buckets of sea water to sluice out all the sand that had built up over the season. That done Peggy and I got ready to set off to show her Spanish Wells. As I stepped into Venture, I found that one of the boarding lines I had hanging from the arch had managed to get fouled in the lanyard for the drain plug and I could not release it without rehousing the dinghy stern about a foot to untangle it. I had this sudden flash vision of the Gods sitting about in their lounge chairs as they laughed their butts off at the various "challenges" they send my way. Ahh, at least it happens in paradise…
  • As we entered Spanish Wells harbor from the S we found a barge and equipment ranged along the W side of the channel. We learned they were digging it out to 10' and widening it. The R (E) side of the channel was well marked with two red buoys. Later we came across several local men at the boatyard opposite the cut who told us about several vessels entering the cut had for some inexplicable reason (maybe the sight of the barge??) decided to take the red buoys to port and went hard aground.
  • We took advantage of the calm conditions an new outboard motor to make a speedy tour of the channel leading E out of the harbor. We went first up the short leg to the ferry landing on Eleuthera where folks are taken to get a taxi to the airport. Then we went out the N entrance and followed the coast E to the beginning of the VPR to Harbour Island. Along the way we came across an ~8' shark causing the area in the crystal clear water.
  • Back in the E entrance of the harbor we followed the shallow in-shore channel N toward the Boatyard Cafe. We found that they were closed Monday and Tuesday from three men sitting in the waterfront gazebo. It turned out that one of them was Captain George from the fishing boat Lady Marie whom I have been listening to for years as he talked with Chris Parker on SSB. We had a interesting chat with him. He operates his boat with just his son and one other man and they use only one runabout. His son dives for lobster using a hooka unit. George runs the boat and is the cook. They are gone for ~5 weeks at a time during the season which was just ending.
  • We went into town and had lunch at the Snack Bar and just made it in before they closed. After lunch we did a waling tour of the town and shops before heading back to Onward.

30 Mar 16; Wednesday; Spanish Wells
  • The hot, humid, hazy day yesterday gave way to a mostly overcast day today due to the unsettled atmosphere. In early afternoon we were alerted to a waterspout W of Royal Island. We watched it for a while and noticed a second waterspout forming. The we saw wind shear taking over and moving the top of the spout NE faster than the bottom until first the forming spout disappeared and then the formed spout came apart and was absorbed in the clouds.
  • After working on income taxes and boat tasks all morning, I needed a lazy afternoon. I started reading Anne Hillerman's second novel. She has taken up with the Navajo tribal policeman characters developed by her father Tony who died a few years ago. She does quiet a good job — not yet her dad yet with her own voice developing and yielding a good read.

31 Mar 16; Thursday; Spanish Wells to Royal Island Harbor
  • It was a so-so day with winds from E to ESE at ~ 10 to 15 kts and clouds with an occasional shower. I spent the morning in a bust of energy working on boat projects and printing tax returns for final review.
  • My principal activity was to organize all my boat projects. Some years ago I began to create "Project Bags". These are ziplock bags that have the components of various boat projects I intend to work on. I start one when I first start planning and engineering a project and add to it until it is ready to be implement. At one time I established a database of the